Sunday, 30 March 2014

Captain America: Patriot #1-4

Writers: Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitweiser

Cover artist: Mitch Breitweiser

-        This limited series re-examines the history of Jeff Mace, who had been introduced as the Patriot (not to be confused with the present day Patriot, Elijah Bradley, descendent of the other 1940s Captain America, Isaiah Bradley) in the Spring 1941 issue of Human Torch Comics, #3. After a few brief appearances, Mace was resurrected in 1976's What If? #4, taking the place of Captain America from 1946-1950.

-        Although this series was never tied into it (it was released a year beforehand), this series sits great on the bookshelf next to Brubaker's Captain America and Bucky, which in its second arc explores the post-war period from Fred Davis' perspective, partner to both William Naslund and Jeff Mace.

-        This series uses a new, art deco design of the Captain America logo to represent Mace's late 1940s incarnation.

Collected in:
  • Captain America: Patriot (Marvel Comics, Feb 16 2011), with All-Winners Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 and What If? #4
  • The complete series is available as part of Marvel Unlimited.

#1 "Born on the Fourth of July"

Continuity Notes

-        Perhaps appropriately, this issue is titled 'Born on the 4th of July.' Mace's debut appearance as the Patriot coincides here with July 1941, although as his article on the Morgan Shoe Factory incident notes ("it was Independence Day all over again"), it is some days after the holiday. Mace's reference to the "red, white and blue fireworks" of Cap's suit in the first article implies the day he met Cap was actually July 4th, although nothing is explicitly stated. Indeed, the implication of the issue's title is that he was "born out of" the events of the 4th July, as it were. Mace's first comics appearance is actually slightly before this, fighting against another political group in 'The Yellowshirts Turn Yellow!', Human Torch Comics #1. The title is a reference to the book Born on the Fourth of July, an account of the Vietnam War by Ron Covic which was later adapted into the Oliver Stone film.

-        Mace is prompted to take up his superhero role after witnessing Captain America fighting "some surprised swastika-sympathizing saboteurs," and hearing from Mary of a Fifth Columnist labour rally at her parents' business, the Morgan Shoe Factory. He asks Mary: "You know the people in the theater district, right? People who make costumes?" He borrows his namesake from Cap - who calls him "not just a citizen," but "a patriot!"

-        The head of the Daily Bugle here is Mr. Goodman, a reference to the one Martin Goodman who effectively launched Timely Comics in the 1930s. Clearly, Goodman here is modelled on the actual Goodman. The Marvel Universe's Goodman was first seen in Marvels.
Martin Goodman / William Walter Goodman

-       Goodman slams Mace's article for making it "sound like you're Captain America's stateside sidekick." Given there is no direct reference to Bucky, we can infer that these events are prior to Bucky's career.

-        Miss America seems uncertain about Patriot working "with Cap and his team again." It seems to me that these events are actually after Cap and Bucky's death; in What If? #4, after all, Truman notes how the press had already caught wind of their supposed deaths very shortly after.

-      Pages 18-19 retell the events of Naslund's death from What If? #4. We see an unseen moment, previously only referenced, of Patriot taking Naslund's deceased body to the healing facility on Namor's flag-ship, contemplative, before taking up the shield.

-        This issue spans July 4th 1941 through to July 4th 1946, the death of William Naslund.
  • Pages 1-3 - July 4th 1941
  • Pages 4-7 - July 5th 1941; Mace debuts as the Patriot.
  • Page 8 - July 6th 1941
  • Page 9 - August through November 1941
  • Page 10 - The day following Pearl Harbor, December 8th.
  • Page 11 - Daily Bugle colleague, Jack Casey, leaves for the Navy. He would serve multiple tours of duty, but by 1946 would be blue-ticketed based on his homosexuality and later killed himself.
  • Page 12 - February-May 1942
  • Page 12 - June 1942. The Liberty Legion (Thin Man, Red Raven, Miss America, Patriot Whizzer, Jack Frost and Blue Diamond) form. These events are detailed in Marvel Premiere #29.
  • Page 13 - The Liberty Legion hold a press conference.
  • Pages 14-15 - December 1943. These events follow Marvel Mystery Comics #50, with Patriot discussing with Mary about her taking up the role of Miss Patriot.
  • Pages 16-17 - April 1945. Miss America discusses with Patriot how the Liberty Legion are going to be folded into the Invaders. The team will meet with Truman on this after the death of Captain America, in What If? #4 (May 1946.)
  • Pages 18-23 - July 4th 1946. After the events of What If? #4, Agent Skinner officially assigns Mace to the position of Captain America, who in that issue had "took his place... ...using a spare costume I found in the Sub-Mariner's flag-ship!" Skinner says to Mace "Third time's the charm, eh?" 
SKINNER: "See, there's a situation brewing with the Soviets, and the    country-- hell, the whole world--needs Captain America. Now. That's the trouble with a living legend. It has to stay alive."
MACE: " want me to be Captain America?"
SKINNER: "Your country wants you to be Captain America."
MACE: "No. There's only one Captain America. I can never be him. But I can carry on in his name--with his name. That I can do. That would be an honor."

#2 "All-Winners"

Continuity Notes

-        Betsy says "I figured someone calling himself the Patriot for five years was good enough for me."

-        Mary figures out the new Captain America's identity upon hearing the press conference on the radio: "Lowering your voice--nicely done. I'm sure it fools most people. But most people don't have enhanced hearing...or know you like I do, Jeff." She says that he "dropped off the face of the earth a few months back!"

-        Mace says to Mary that Bucky is eighteen years old. Fred would therefore have been born in 1927 or 1928, 2-3 years after the original, James Buchanan Barnes. By the time of his death in December 2011, Fred would be 83 or 84.

-        Jacob Casey's obituary gives his birth date as 1913, making him 32 or 33 by his death in September 1946. The memorial service is held on the 23rd.

-        The final pages show the All-Winners on the half-completed Baxter Building. The idea that the Baxter Building was originally built for the All-Winners Squad was introduced in All-Winners Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1, where we see Mace looking over blueprints from The Leland Baxter Paper Company.

-        April is established to be Mace's birthday.

-        This issue covers events from September 1946 through to the shooting of Bucky on Mace's birthday in April 1948.
  •  Pages 1-8 - September 1946
  • Pages 8-15 - Two nights later; Mary realises that Mace is Captain America, whilst Betsy informs him of Jacob Casey's suicide. The Torch convinces him that if he attends as Captain America "no one will wear that uniform ever again."
  • Pages 15-16 - Jacob's funeral, September 23rd. Patriot and Mary are the only two in attendance.
  • Pages 17-18 - The following day; the Patriot burns his suit in response to public controversy over him attending the funeral.
  • Page 19 - February-December 1947
  • Pages 19-23 - Bucky is shot. These events were first witnessed in Captain America Comics #66, his final Golden Age appearance before his return in the 1950s.

#3 "Truth & Justice"

Continuity Notes

-        This issue picks up the morning after Bucky's shooting in #2, with Davis being operated in hospital.

-        Fred Davis' time after this is glimpsed in Captain America and Bucky #628, where in a flashback we see him drinking in a tavern in Washington DC in Winter 1949. He argues to two patrons that he was Bucky, and fought Baron Zemo.

-        Captain America decides to resign from the All-Winner's Squad, effectively dissolving the group (combined with Bucky's crippling leg injury meaning he can no longer participate.)

-        Another Fantastic Four connection: Mace says that he grew up on Yancy Street, the tenth avenue suburb which would later herald Ben Grimm, the Thing.

-        Agent Skinner determines:
      "We just minimized one of our nation's biggest security risks! [...] Jeff Mace was the last person to see Mary Morgan before she packed her bags and vanished yesterday... ...and the first to see her after she spent the evening with two known communist agents who are trying to acquire atomic secrets."

          Fear of the 'enemy within', even from those 'carrying the flag' (whether literally or not, as is the case with Captain America), would only increase during the McCarthy era. Mary Morgan leaves Jeff, whilst Skinner assigns Betsy Ross to Captain America. "You stay close, you stay alert, you report to me."

#4 "Patriot"

Continuity Notes

-        Under interrogation by Skinner, Mace explains his family heritage, born under the surname 'Masalsky.'

"Russian Jew. My grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in 1887--fleeing the Czar's bloody pogroms. I guess they weren't Russian enough. My grandfather changed the name-- to be more American."

          Throughout the late 19th century, Russia employed a policy of Russification, which sidelined and promoted bloody anti-Semitic pogroms. Following the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II by the People's Will in 1881, this only intensified.

-        Captain America says "I thought sure I'd get a call during the Berlin Blockade last year-- I could've helped there!" The Berlin Blockade, which lasted almost a full year between 24th June 1948 and 12th May 1949, saw post-war Berlin, split by the Potsdam Agreement in 1945, blockaded by Stalin when the British, French and American states grouped together to form West Germany. What followed was 318 days of supply by air, before Stalin abandoned the Blockade in 1949.

-        Golden Girl says "The last ten months have been...thrilling." From February 1950, this would indicate that they began their partnership in April 1949, a full year after Skinner told her that she would "play the perky partner." Likely this is an error in Kessel's dialogue and captions.

-        Fred explains to Cap "...we are looking into getting you a new Bucky." Clearly, this doesn't happen: after a few months further activity as Captain America, the role is dropped until it is picked up again in 1953 by William Burnside and Jack Munroe.

-        At a speech at West Lake Middle School, Captain America teaches the (hilariously ridiculous, and not at all safe) government initiated scheme of "duck and cover" - supposed protection against nuclear holocaust. The 1951 'educational' propaganda film can be found widely online.

-        In a wonderful moment of synergy, Fred Davis' secret codename is revealed to be Falcon.

-        Skinner says that three months after Mary left, "the Reds had the bomb!" Having worked on it since World War II, the first Soviet bomb test, 'First Lightning', occurred on August 29th 1949 in an area known as  Semipalatinsk.

-        Mace refuses Skinner's proposition to send Captain America to Korea, and instead proposes to Betsy Ross, now working as a member of the FBI in Glendale.

-        Jeff Mace effectively vanishes from the Marvel Universe after he settles down with Betsy in 1950, but in Captain America #284 (August 1984) he would return for one final time, dying of cancer in the present day.

-        Betsy and Jeff examine the latest edition of the Bugle, showing the new Captain America and Bucky (William Burnside and Jack Munroe.) Jeff comments: "...I can't believe anyone thinks this is the same Cap who fought in the war--or after the war! Look at him-- all meat and potatoes! I didn't look like that!"

-        This issue covers events from February 1950 ("four months earlier"), with Golden Girl leaving her partnership with Captain America, through to the introduction of the Captain America for the Korean War, William Burnside, in December 1953.
  • Pages 2-7 - February 1950, Golden Girl announces she is leaving.
  • Pages 8-9 - Captain America meets up with Fred for what is presumably the first time since the accident. He now is relegated to a walking stick and sports a moustache. Skinner assigns Cap to "a series of public safety talks" on the Cold War.
  • Pages 10-15; 1; 16-19 - June 30th 1950, Mace operates as Captain America one last time.
  • Page 20 - Mace proposes to Betsy Ross.
  • Page 21 - Mace and Ross are shown settling into their new lifestyle; Betsy becomes a teacher whilst Mace works on the first issue of Glendale Gazette.
  • Pages 22-24 - December 16th 1953 (per the Bugle front cover.)

No comments:

Post a Comment